Saturday, December 14, 2019

Firriato's Calamoni Estate: The Only Winery of the Aegadian Islands

This is my final edition of my recent trip to Sicily visiting the Firriato winery and I’ve kept their quite unique vineyard for last.  My previous posts including my visit to Cavanea Etnea on the east side of the island as well as a hike of Mt. Etna including the wines of Baglio Soria.  Now we’re venturing over to the Aegadian Islands, specifically the island of Favignana, where Firriato’s Calamoni estate is the only winery of these islands.  Vineyards used to be in existence until they disappeared at the beginning of the 20th century in favor of wheat. 

The Winery ~ Firriato Calamoni Estate 
The island of Favignana is located about 4 miles off the coast of Marsala and Trapani.  We boarded a boat at the port of Trapani and were there in no time.  Only we didn’t venture around too much as soon as we arrived it was quite lively with the local fisherman selling their daily catch.  I even discovered a hidden gem inside a local “bar” or caffe where they use the local pistacchio crème inside their espresso shots.  Amazing! 
Favignana Island of the Egadi Islands
Once we arrived at the Calamoni Estate I quickly learned what makes the grapes growing on these 12 acres special.  From the location just right off the sea with the salt air breezes to the soils rich in limestone and sea fossils.  The vineyards are separated from the sea by only a small road and surrounded by dry, stone walls.  The breezes here help to keep from humidity building upon amongst the vines.   
Firriato's Calamoni Estate
The unique soil, claimed as millions of years old, was full of sea shells and bones of sea life, which I experienced from walking through the vineyards and seeing the remnants.  The sandy soils rich in salt help prevent against the attach of phylloxera.  The local Neptune grass surrounding the area lends it’s rich potassium throughout the soils giving the vines nutrients and providing minerality in the wines.  Although this is a challenging environment to grow grapes in, these challenges are what makes these wines display the discernible characteristics of this area.   
Limestone rich soil with fossil remnants
If it’s so challenging to grow grapes here why is this something Firriato would want to tackle?  You can view my video for a quick explanation, but their overall philosophy is to express wines “based on the authenticity of the various Sicilian territories”.  They experimented with vineyards on a small scale with ungrafted vines planted directly into the soil.  The results were promising and they expanded to planting 1,000 more vines.  The grapes grown here zibibbo, perricone, grillo, nero d’avola and catarratto. 
The grape harvest at the Calamoni Estate seems like quite the spectacle for this small island.  All the grapes must be hauled to the mainland to their Baglio Soria winery.  It typically takes place at the end of August into the beginning of September weather dependent.  All the grapes are hand harvested at lower temperatures and loaded into wooden crates placed among fishing boats to be brought over to Trapani.  
Drinking Favinia wines at Tenuta Calamoni
The Wines 
Three wines hail from Firriato’s Calamoni Estate  and if you have the opportunity to get your hands on these they’re worth seeking out. 
Favinia wines of Firriato
2017 Favinia La Muciara IGT Terre Siciliane – This wine is made of 60% zibibbo, 20% grillo and 20% catarratto.  A small production of about 4,000 bottles.  This wine spends about 6 months on the lees in stainless and 1 year in the bottle.  The aromatics of the zibibbo are apparent on the nose displaying stone fruit notes.  The saltiness of the ocean air is displayed on the palate.  Crisp, high acidity with lemon rind notes.  Such a refreshing wine.   

2015 Favinia Le Sciabiche IGT Terre Siciliane – Made of 50% nero d’avola and 50% perricone.  Aged 4-6 months in barrique.  Licorice, herbal and ripe black cherries on the nose.  A dry, medium-bodied wine with bright acid, silky tannin showing dark fruits with a lengthy finish.   

2015 Favinia Passule Sicilia IGT – 100% made of zibibbo grapes in the passito style where the grapes are dried on straw mats.  Golden orange colors shining in the glass.  Intense flavors rich in apricots with a hint of raisins.  Just the right consistency in my opinion, not too heavy and not too light in body. 
With so much to see at all of Firriato’s estates, beautiful accommodations, amazing food and wines a visit to Firriato is a vacation in itself.  I hope you get to experience it for yourself.    
Finishing off the day at the "Wine House" in Trapani"


*This was a sponsored trip, but opinions are all my own.

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